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Medical Science

BSc (Hons)

Key facts


UCAS code

B190

Start dates

September 2020

Course length

Full time: 3 years

Part time: part-time study is possible

Department

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

UCAS Tariff Points

104

Overview


On this course you will study the function of the human body in health and disease, look at diseases from molecular, cellular and systems points of view. As such, the degree provides a great foundation for graduate-entry medical or dental school.

On this course you will develop the practical skills and scientific knowledge future employers need. We’ll prepare you for further training or employment in a range of healthcare science professions or medical research. 

You will gain a sound understanding of medical aspects of the human body in health and disease as the course builds on core biomedical science subjects. Primarily taught by our teaching staff, some aspects are taught by health professionals from the local hospitals. 

You will have the opportunity to work with our academics in research groups and explore such subjects such as: 

  • genetic damage induced by radiation 
  • the mechanisms of nicotine addiction
  • how the heart and lungs function in health and disease.

You can apply for exciting work placements, with our strong links with local hospitals and bioscience organisations.

Students working in a lab

How to apply


Wherever possible we make our conditional offers using the UCAS Tariff. The combination of A-level grades listed here would be just one way of achieving the UCAS Tariff points for this course.

Standard offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 104

A Level: BCC

IB Points: 29

BTEC: DMM

Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements

A Level: Including one A Level or a comparable Level 3 qualification in a science subject (e.g. Biology, Chemistry, Maths, PE, Physics, Psychology).

GCSE: Grade 4 (C) in English, Maths and Science. For English and Maths, Level 2 Functional Skills are accepted as alternatives to GCSEs.

If you do not have a background in science, we encourage you to consider our Life Sciences foundation year, taught at Abingdon and Witney College. Successful completion of this enables students to progress on to the BSc Medical Science (and a range of undergraduate degrees in the faculty - see website for more details).

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

Please see the University's standard English language requirements.

International qualifications and equivalences

Go

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the University's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

Pathways courses for international and EU students

If you do not meet the entry requirements for this degree, or if you would like more preparation before you start, you can take an international foundation course. Once you enrol, you will have a guaranteed pathway to this degree if you pass your foundation course with the required grades.

If you only need to meet the language requirements, you can take our pre-sessional English course. You will develop key language and study skills for academic success and you will not need to take an external language test to progress to your degree.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Credit transfer

Many of our courses consider applications for entry with credit for prior learning. Each application is individually assessed by our credit entry tutors. 

If you would like more information about whether or not you may be eligible for the award of credit, for example from an HND, partly-completed degree or foundation degree, please contact our Admissions team.

We operate the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). All undergraduate single modules are equivalent to 7.5 ECTS credits and double modules to 15 ECTS credits. More about ECTS credits.

Application process

Full time Home / EU applicants

Apply through UCAS

Part time Home / EU applicants

Apply direct to the University

International applicants

Apply direct to the University

Full time applicants can also apply through UCAS

Tuition fees


Please see the fees note
2020 / 21
Home/EU full time
£9,250

Home/EU part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£14,800

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees


2020 / 21
Home/EU full time
£9,250

Home/EU part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£14,800

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Please note tuition fees for Home/EU students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students.

Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning home and EU students at the maximum permitted level.

Financial support and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed below.

You will need basic personal protection equipment for your laboratory practical classes. A lab coat costs around £27 and safety glasses can usually be bought for a few pounds.

Learning and assessment


The course is structured to give you a sound understanding of medical aspects of the human body in health and disease. It builds on core biomedical science subjects.

The first year gives you the opportunity to experience a broad range of subjects. The modules lay the foundation for the advanced modules in Year 2 and your final year where themes are further developed. And gives you a better understanding of where you want to focus your second and final years.

In Year 3 you can choose an optional professional placement concerned with research or clinical work.

You will be able to choose modules to suit your particular interest in the molecular life sciences or physiological sciences. The emphasis is on the interdisciplinary nature of causes and treatment of disease. 

You will have the option to select a modular pathway that emphasises the physiological principles underpinning medical science at a systems level.

If you’re unsure about which course to study, there is some flexibility within your subject area once you get here.

Students undertaking lab work

Study modules

Year 1

Compulsory modules

Cell Biology & Genetics (double)

Cell biology is the study of how cells work and how they differentiate to form multicellular organisms.  This module is an introduction to cell function - students will study the different types of molecules within cells and learn about cellular organelles and their functions.   

During the module, students will learn about the increasing levels of complexity and the diversity of cell types that have arisen through the action of evolution.  A major component of the module is genetics. What are genes and how do they work to bring about the traits that we observe in organisms? We will examine cell division in detail and look at how DNA is transcribed into RNA which is, in turn, translated into proteins that do most of the work in the cell.

 

Introduction to Biochemistry A

A general introduction to the chemical principles that underpin cellular functions is crucial for any student of the biological sciences.  The chemical concepts studied in this module range from stoichiometry and reactions, chemical bonds and structures through to chemical equilibrium and chemical change, taking in the organic chemistry of cell macromolecules (DNA, proteins) along the way.

Introduction to Biochemistry B

The chemical concepts studied in this module are built on the topics presented in the above module, Introduction to Biochemistry A, and range from energetics and cellular metabolism to biochemical change (enzyme kinetics and mechanisms). We again consider cellular macromolecules, broadly looking at bioenergetics, cellular metabolism, enzyme kinetics, protein structure and function.

Human Structure and Function (double)

This module provides a detailed insight into physiology - the way that the human body performs vital functions. Because body function is dependent on the form or structure of the body, we will also study relevant areas of anatomy.  Body functions are complex and individual organs don’t function in isolation, but rather they work within organ systems. This module explores systemic physiology - the study of these organ systems – and we use examples such as the cardiovascular, respiratory and renal systems to illustrate this way of looking at and understanding the human body.  Organ systems also work in an integrated way, each affecting the others to try to maintain a physiological equilibrium. We will look at how the body maintains its balance, and think about when things go wrong.

Professional and Experimental Skills

Scientific Skills

These two modules work together and are designed to give you good opportunity to learn and practice the skills you will need to undertake a degree in biosciences, to perform well in your core taught modules, and to potentially begin a career as a bioscientist.  Lectures and practical classes combine to help you understand and apply experimental techniques and use basic but commonly used laboratory equipment. 

The modules use small-group tutorials where you’ll learn other key skills essential for bioscientists presentation and applicable to many professions. These include finding and judging the quality of reading sources, and how to use these sources for your own learning, understanding and communication. You’ll practice different forms of academic writing through a range of assessments, and you’ll be encouraged to use simple study tools to help you manage your time well, get the most out of your feedback, and work with a team of your fellow students.

Year 2

Compulsory modules

Biochemistry of Cell Function (double)

The module considers the biochemistry of eukaryotic cells with an emphasis on mammalian tissues. Using several approaches, we will explore the biochemistry of eukaryotic cells, including the chemical nature of the compounds that are involved in cellular processes. Examples of diseases caused by failures in these processes reinforce understanding and provide relevance and application.  The module emphasises relationships between events at the cellular level and at the systemic level, building a clear picture of the importance of biochemical events in human health and disease. In addition, some of the most relevant biomedical diagnostic techniques will be discussed.

Genetics

Recent advances in molecular biology techniques have produced an abundance of knowledge about the genomes of organisms, including our humans. An understanding of the basic concepts of genetics – that is, of heredity and the variation of inherited characteristics – is essential for us to understand and explore this exciting and rapidly expanding area of science.  Teaching and learning approaches in this module will build on basic understanding of inheritance, genetics and genome structures that are introduced in the 1st year module Cell Biology & Genetics. We have a particular focus on genetic analysis, and our dedicated computing lab will allow you to get to grips with some of the basic tools available to do this.

Molecular Biology

During this module we will explore the many ways in which our genes are controlled mutated and repaired. We will study how chromosomes are organised, and how that organisation influences the production of the proteins they encode.  We will review the story of the human genome project, we’ll consider the mutation and repair of our DNA, and how our knowledge of genomes and genome sequences can be used in medical and forensic settings. You’ll learn about the processes of recombinant DNA technology and you’ll work in the labs over the course of the module to clone a gene using some of the core methods of molecular biology.

Research Methods in Healthcare Sciences

This module is designed to provide a background to the endeavour of scientific research, and forms a fundamental stage in your development as a bioscientist.  Research moves forward through the application of the scientific method, helping us to design suitable experiments to investigate relationships among natural phenomenon, or to solve a medical or technical problem. A number of important concepts and practices are required for performing research in such a way that the results are reliable and meaningful.  These will be explored within the module, building on your earlier learning and preparing you for your own research project, which is part of your final year.  

You’ll begin to work with a research scientist during this module, who will steer your research project. They will suggest reading, discuss the background and goals of your project, and support you through the course of the experimental work and data analysis over the following year. 

Optional modules

Cellular Pathology

This module offers a study of the development and application of analytical techniques used in histology and cytology. It includes techniques for distinguishing between normal and diseased cells and tissue components, using coloured dyes and immunohistological techniques. The structure of normal cells and tissues is related to their function, and a range of common and/or important will be studied with a view to selecting the appropriate methods required to identify and demonstrate particular pathologies. Future trends and quality issues within the discipline will also be explored.

Haematology and Immunology

This is a module of two halves, each dedicated to an important arm of blood diseases, with emphasis on the modern approaches to diagnosis of red and white blood cell disorders.  The haematology content will cover the basic concepts of red blood cell blood development and disorders and will consider the science of blood transfusions. During the immunology section you will learn about the different white blood cell types that function as our formidable immune system.  Cells of both the innate and acquired immunity will be explored, including the incredible T cells and B cells which form the main barrier to infectious diseases.

Integrated Physiology (double)

This double module focuses on the integrated functions of systems physiology.  The module builds on the content of the 1st year module Human Structure and Function, exploring integrated physiological functions and responses to physiological disturbances involving the respiratory, cardiovascular and renal systems. We will look at how these systems interact to meet the special challenges of extreme environments or situations such as high altitude, diving, hot or cold environments and the prenatal environment.

Microbiology

The module considers the structures, metabolism, regulatory signals, replication and growth exhibited by microorganisms. You will be introduced to a number of examples of microbes, including viruses, bacteria and protozoa, particularly those that are pathogenic in humans. The interaction and impact of microbes with humans will be considered, along with an introduction to the challenges facing medical interventions against pathogenic microbes in different parts of the world. 

You will learn how to work safely in a Category 2 microbiology containment laboratory, where you will plan and execute a series of simple experimental procedures that are important for the diagnosis of common bacterial species. You will practise aseptic techniques, and apply a core virological method – the plaque assay - to address an experimental question with your classmates.

Year 3 (optional placement year)

Optional modules

Industrial Placement

During the second year of your course you will have the opportunity to register your interest in extending your course to four years by taking the following year (your 3rd year) as a sandwich placement in a relevant professional role. The placement module allows you to remain registered as a student during your sandwich year, and supports your continued academic development whilst in the workplace. You will gain insight into various aspects of work within a professional setting and you’ll develop new practical and career-supporting skills.

Although Oxford Brookes will support you academically during your placement year, you will need to organise the placement yourself – this might include applying for nationally- or locally-advertised placements or searching for suitable host companies.  You’ll need to fund any associated expenses (e.g. accommodation, travel) for your placement. You will be given help and advice how to think and go about this in your 1st year. 

Year 4 (or Year 3 if no placement)

Compulsory modules

Evidence-Based Medicine & Diagnostics

Evidence Based Medicine (EBM), also known as Evidence Based Practice, refers to the deliberate, careful and thorough use of clinical research, review and appraisal to ensure patients receive the best possible clinical care. This module will explore many aspects of evidence-based medicine, introducing public health and policy, drug design, diagnostic screening and epidemiology. The module will also include the wide range of diagnostic tools which are available and used within the health system in the UK.

Project (double)

A Research Project is your chance to do brand new research and find out what it’s really like to be a professional scientist – gathering, considering and evaluating data, then communicating it clearly and critically to others. This is the pinnacle of your degree, working with a supervisor (and possibly others) to collect novel scientific data about a specific topic. You are likely to use a range of theoretical, experimental and/or bioinformatics methods or you may use tools such as data mining, patient or volunteer surveys, questionnaires and other forms of investigative research.

Projects allow you to make the transition from student to professional, building on all you have learned to develop and practice a range of superior skills and abilities. Working largely independently you will gather, analyse and present your findings, and argue your conclusions to others in a clear and well-written formal report.

Optional modules

Clinical Biochemistry

This module aims to discuss the role and fate of drugs within the body.  The twin aspects of the module are the study of pharmacodynamics (effectively, what drugs do to the body) and pharmacokinetics (what happens when the body metabolises those drugs).  Pharmacodynamics includes the consideration of specific molecular targets of drug action and the therapeutic and toxic effects of drugs on cells and on the major organ systems of the body. Pharmacokinetics will discuss how drugs reach their targets and how they are cleared from the body by the action of key enzymes. Natural diversity (polymorphisms) in the genes encoding some of the key metabolic enzymes will also be discussed, as influencing the value, toxicity and stability of drugs in different individuals. Drug discovery and clinical trials will also be introduced.

Clinical Pharmacology

This module aims to discuss the role and fate of drugs within the body.  The twin aspects of the module are the study of pharmacodynamics (effectively, what drugs do to the body) and pharmacokinetics (what happens when the body metabolises those drugs).  Pharmacodynamics includes the consideration of specific molecular targets of drug action and the therapeutic and toxic effects of drugs on cells and on the major organ systems of the body. Pharmacokinetics will discuss how drugs reach their targets and how they are cleared from the body by the action of key enzymes. Natural diversity (polymorphisms) in the genes encoding some of the key metabolic enzymes will also be discussed, as influencing the value, toxicity and stability of drugs in different individuals. Drug discovery and clinical trials will also be introduced.

Independent Study in Life Sciences

This module involves an extended study (normally library-based) of a topic of the student's choosing that is relevant to their degree but that was not formally as part of the taught course. The topic will normally extend the learning achieved in your 2nd year and focus on a specific area of interest. Students will work independently, with support given by a supervising member of staff in the form of tutorials where progress is reviewed and discussed. Much of the student's effort will typically involve library-searching, reading, reviewing, assimilation and synthesis of material for preparing an extended essay reviewing and critiquing the chosen topic. 

 

Infection, Immunity and Immunology

Infection, Immunity and Immunology is an honours level module that will build on knowledge from your 2nd year modules, to understand infectious disease caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites in a host and the response of the host’s immune system. The pathogen-host interaction, molecular mechanisms of pathogenicity, treatment and drug resistance will be studied. The theory of modern infectious disease diagnostics and the role of the medical microbiology laboratory in infectious disease diagnosis and identification will also be explored. You will also study the mechanisms of immunological disease and disorders such as allergies, immunodeficiency and autoimmunity.

Molecular Biology of Cancer

The module will explore our current understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie human cancer and explore some of the possible therapeutic targets and treatments. Understanding the molecular and cellular basis of disease is vital for dissecting the mechanisms of disease pathogenesis and for designing appropriate and effective treatments.

Molecular Medicine

This module is designed to provide a background to the endeavour of scientific research, and forms a fundamental stage in your development as a bioscientist.  Research moves forward through the application of the scientific method, helping us to design suitable experiments to investigate relationships among natural phenomenon, or to solve a medical or technical problem. A number of important concepts and practices are required for performing research in such a way that the results are reliable and meaningful.  These will be explored within the module, building on your earlier learning and preparing you for your own research project, which is part of your final year.

Neuroscience (double)

Neuroscience uses skills and knowledge from physiology, anatomy, molecular biology, physics, medicine, psychology, mathematics, computing and even philosophy, to understand how the brain gives rise to behaviour and consciousness. The module begins by exploring the structure and function of the brain at the molecular, cellular and anatomical level, including development of the brain, motorsensory function and the phenomenon of adult neurogenesis. We will then consider in depth a range of specific functions of the brain, such as learning and memory, speech and language, motor control, vision, sleep and chronicity..

Pathophysiology (double)

The module explores the physiological mechanisms of disease states that disrupt the normal functioning of the respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, renal and neural systems. You will learn from lecturers who are actively engaged in cutting edge research or are highly experienced practicing physicians in the fields of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. In addition the content will include a review of dyspnoea (breathlessness) and angina (chest pain) as the cardinal symptoms of cardiopulmonary disease and recent advances in our knowledge of the neurophysiological mechanisms of these symptoms that has led to an exploration of new therapeutic approaches.

Science and Humanity

The module draws students to consider the impact that science has had on all aspects of our lives, aiming to set that influence in its social and historical context. We will address alternative views of the world, how they have been developed or replaced in the context of science and have a clear look at the strengths and weaknesses of a scientific world view. Ideas about the value of other life forms will be explored and environmental philosophy will be discussed. In this light we will discuss some of the modern contentious ideas and possibilities, such as Genetic Modification, organic farming, fracking, stem cell research, manipulation of the human genome and designer babies. The political, economic and moral context of the current environmental crisis will be discussed.

Genomic Medicine

The aim of this module is to reflect on the growth of genetic analysis  as part of healthcare diagnostics, treatment and monitoring. As technologies advance, the ability to use whole genome data offers clinicians more information on the pathology of diseases, but at a cost of being much more complex. This module sets out to inform the key areas in this field, and how it can be used in practise in healthcare.


Building on your knowledge (from 2nd year modules) of genome structure and function, the module will look at the levels of genomic variation across patient groups and populations, and how this may be linked with disease. Themes will include epigenetics, population studies, the ethical issues surrounding genetic testing and personalised medicine.  We will use bioinformatic tools used in medicine and research today for the reading of genome sequence data and how it might be used to predict or identify disease.

Work Experience

The ‘Work Experience’ module is a supervised work-based learning experience. You will spend a minimum of 60 hours in a working environment that is relevant to your future career path. By learning how to reflect on your learning and professional development, and how to present your insights, you will develop useful skills for your future job applications. 

Previously, our students have worked in research labs, hospitals, industry, charities, science communication and schools. You will be expected to arrange your work experience for yourself, but you will receive support and advice for this from staff in the Department and within the University’s Careers Service centre.

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from that shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

Learning and teaching

Teaching and learning methods include: 

  • lectures
  • practicals
  • tutorials
  • seminars 

You will have the opportunity to attend seminars given by visiting speakers from around the world.

As well as delivering this course in partnership with scientists working in local hospitals, we are able to invite colleagues and collaborators who are at the forefront of research to join us in exploring the scientific themes of medical science with you. This includes work on:

  • DNA repair
  • disease biofilms
  • clinically important immunohistochemistry tests
  • deep brain stimulation for symptom relief.

Our research in these areas underpins this course.

Medical science is a practical subject and we have a very good range of equipment. This includes: 

  • high-performance liquid chromatography equipment
  • confocal and electron microscopes
  • specialised laboratories for tissue culture
  • microbiology
  • physiology
  • microscopy.
  • Lectures and seminars
  • Placement
  • Other learning activities (including group work, research, conferences etc.)

Year 1

  • Lectures and seminars - 27%
  • Placement - 0%
  • Other learning activities (including group work, research, conferences etc.) - 73%

Year 2

  • Lectures and seminars - 21%
  • Placement - 0%
  • Other learning activities (including group work, research, conferences etc.) - 79%

Year 3 (optional placement year)

  • Lectures and seminars - 0%
  • Placement - 100%
  • Other learning activities (including group work, research, conferences etc.) - 0%

Year 4 (or Year 3 if no placement)

  • Lectures and seminars - 21%
  • Placement - 0%
  • Other learning activities (including group work, research, conferences etc.) - 79%

Learning and teaching percentages are indicative. There may be slight year-on-year variations.

Assessment

Assessment methods used on this course

The course includes a variety of teaching, learning and assessment methods.

Assessment methods include:

  • essays 
  • reviews 
  • examinations 
  • laboratory notebooks
  • scientific reports 
  • posters
  • oral presentations.

Reflective learning is encouraged through the use of:

  • self reflection following feedback
  • peer or staff formative feedback
  • group work
  • project work
  • reflective diaries.
  • Written exams
  • Coursework
  • Practical exams

Year 1

  • Written exams - 45%
  • Coursework - 55%
  • Practical exams - 0%

Year 2

  • Written exams - 31%
  • Coursework - 69%
  • Practical exams - 0%

Year 3 (optional placement year)

  • Written exams - 0%
  • Coursework - 100%
  • Practical exams - 0%

Year 4 (or Year 3 if no placement)

  • Written exams - 31%
  • Coursework - 69%
  • Practical exams - 0%

Assessment method percentages are indicative. There may be slight year-on-year variations.

Study Abroad


You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange while you are at Brookes. Most exchanges take place in the second year. Although we will help as much as we can with your plans, ultimately you are responsible for organising and funding this study abroad.

After you graduate


Career prospects

A degree in Medical Science from Oxford Brookes is the first step to a wide range of career opportunities in biomedical science, clinical science, health care management and clinical trials co-ordination. Many leading universities around the world now have graduate medical schools. This degree is excellent preparation for entry into medicine or study as a health care practitioner.

As many as 50% of our graduates each year are appointed to research posts in universities, research institutes or biotechnology companies, while others pursue careers allied to medicine and health care.

Our courses are designed to equip you with the skills you need for employment. We put a strong emphasis on developing the multidisciplinary graduate attributes needed to keep ahead in a rapidly changing workplace.

Further study

The BSc degree is well designed to provide a foundation for graduate-entry medical school or further academic training in the life and medical sciences (eg MSc and PhD level degrees).

Free language courses


Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

Information from Discover Uni


Full-time study

Part-time study

Programme Changes: On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website.

For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.